LAND 400 Phase 2 contender BAE Systems Australia has announced it will support employment growth in regional Victoria, selecting Ararat's AME Systems to manufacture electrical wiring harnesses for the AMV35 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle, should the BAE Systems' bid be successful.
BAE Systems Australia and Patria have offered the AMV35 CRV as part of their bid for LAND 400 Phase 2 – which will replace the ageing ASLAV fleet – as part of the Australian Army's largest ever vehicle replacement program. German firm Rheinmetall Defence Australia is offering the Boxer CRV.
AME Systems employs more than 250 people and is the largest employer in the region. AME Systems managing director Nick Carthew said the BAE Systems LAND 400 package is important to the entire region of Ararat.
"This opportunity will provide long-term employment with up to 25 additional direct jobs at AME," Carthew said.
"As the largest employer in the region, this opportunity is incredibly important for the people of Ararat and the surrounding area."
BAE Systems Australia chief executive Glynn Phillips said the latest package is a further continuation of the already established relationship it has with the Ararat SME.
"We have worked with AME Systems for many years and we’re pleased to be able to continue this relationship with our LAND 400 offering," Phillips said.
"It has a highly skilled workforce ready to work with us to deliver a high quality product for the Australian Army.
"Working with partners like AME will help us develop and maintain Australian industry capability on major projects like LAND 400 and to hit the ground running should we win the contract."
BAE Systems recently awarded an additional package of work worth more than $15 million to engineering company Marand for its proposed new Army CRVs.
The package will contribute to the creation of 60 new manufacturing jobs in regional Victoria. Marand is one of Victoria’s biggest defence manufacturers and employs more than 250 people.
Should they win the LAND 400 Phase 2 contract, BAE Systems Australia will assemble their vehicles at Fishermans Bend, Victoria, while Rheinmetall Defence Australia would make their vehicles in Queensland.
The Victorian state government has been stepping up the pressure on the federal government to hand the LAND 400 Phase 2 contract to BAE Systems to ensure the vehicles are built in Victoria.
State Trade and Investment Minister Phil Dalidakis said this was a golden opportunity for the Turnbull government to give certainty to the state's manufacturing sector and support new supply chain jobs in Geelong and right across Victoria.
“Billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs – that’s what LAND 400 means to Victoria,” he said.
Minister Dalidakis said LAND 400 Phase 2 was worth around $5 billion and would create up to 2,000 manufacturing and supply chain jobs in Victoria.
Victorian Minister for Industry and Employment Ben Carroll said Victoria was the home of vehicle manufacturing.
“We’ve got the workforce, the expertise and the supply chain to build next-generation vehicles for the Australian Army,” he said.
“We need the Turnbull government to bring this work to Victoria and create thousands of opportunities for workers leaving our automotive sector.”
Federal MP Sussan Ley has also backed BAE Systems' bid, saying areas in the south of NSW hit by the demise of the automotive manufacturing industry are set to benefit if the BAE Systems bid is successful.
"I am delighted to join with my Victorian colleagues to support this bid," Ley said in October when the vehicle was on shown in Albury.
"Albury-Wodonga has also felt the effect of automotive industry closures, and we have the people and skills right here to help great companies like BAE Systems Australia to build the assets our country needs."
BAE Systems has partnered with North Albury's Milspec Manufacturing, with the SME selected to manufacture the complex electro mechanical subsystems, power systems and electrical wiring harnesses for the AMV35, should BAE Systems be selected as the preferred tenderer.
The NSW company, which has seen its staff grow from 60 to 92 employees in the last year due to defence projects, has estimated its workforce will increase by a further 20 people if the BAE Systems bid is successful.
Defence has completed its evaluation of the BAE Systems and Rheinmetall vehicles. The government will announce its decision next year.